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Board holds glasses drive to help needy

Ashley Charnley | Thursday, November 29, 2007

As part of Disabilities Week, the Student Diversity Board (SDB) at Saint Mary’s is sponsoring an eyeglasses drive to benefit the poor in Africa and Latin America who cannot afford new lenses.

Jana Blake, disabilities representative for SDB, is in charge of the drive, which began on Monday.

“This year the Board decided to take a proactive step in actually helping the segment of the world’s population who struggles with visual impairments by collecting glasses,” she said.

Students are asked to donate any pair of prescription reading glasses or sunglasses to the drive. Collection boxes are located in all Saint Mary’s residence halls at the front desk.

This year, the Board worked with New Eyes For The Needy, a group that has helped more than 6.5 million people since its founding in 1932. New Eyes For The Needy sends donated eyeglasses to countries in Latin America and Africa, where the price of eyeglasses can sometimes be more than the average annual household income, Blake said.

“It is probably unfathomable to many of the students here that there are people in the world who cannot afford something as simple as a pair of glasses,” Blake said. “I think this drive is an excellent opportunity for Saint Mary’s students to share some of the many luxuries we, as Americans, have that many people throughout the world do not.”

When Americans get new frames, they tend to leave their old ones lying around, and through the drive, these old glasses can go to good use, she said.

The prescription lenses will be sent to people who work in schools, Blake said. Sunglasses that are donated will be sent to areas near the equator to protect people’s eyes from UV rays.

The Board is also showing the movie, “Emmanuel’s Gift,” during Disabilities Week. It will be today in Vander Vennet Theater at 6:30 p.m. Popcorn and pop will be served.

Disabilities Week is an annual event. Each year, the Board chooses a different disability as its focus. This is the first time the SDB decided to hold an eyeglasses drive.